CD Reviews

Independent East Coast Hip-Hop

Nottz & Asher Roth Rawth EP Self-Released

Ever since Asher Roth released his debut album, Asleep in the Bread Aisle, in 2009, many have wondered if the Morrisville, Pa., product is anything more than a novelty act as a Caucasian MC. By collaborating with Virginia producer and part-time MC Nottz on Rawth, Roth is given the window of opportunity to demonstrate his exceptional rhyming ability over beats that are far less commercial than his lead single, “I Love College.” The dirty drums and gritty synths in “Enforce the Law” finds Roth and Nottz taking as much shit as possible while the smooth production of “Nothing You Can’t Do” sees Roth verbalizing his optimism with life regardless of the hurdles. At a slim and efficient eight songs, Rawth delivers, proving to any and all doubters that Roth is much more than a flash in the pan. ★★★★☆

Hip-Hop With a Touch of Emo Rap

QuEST The Reason: A Defense Mechanism Dope Couture

Miami is usually known for bass music and Rick Ross, but 20-year-old MC QuEST is more Kanye West than Luther Campbell, and he puts his vulnerabilities on display with his latest album, The Reason: A Defense Mechanism. The rapper, who isn’t even old enough to drink, is lyrically light years ahead of his peers on the microphone. Songs such as “Dream of Dreams” and “If You Wanna” peel back the layer of braggadocio that most rappers embrace and puts QuEST and his positive messages on full display. A.I.(ICE) handled most of the production, and Stevo has a very smooth futuristic feel that gives QuEST the perfect soundscape to paint his lyrical portraits. At a robust 16 tracks, The Reason is a pretty intense project coming from this prodigy. This project should get people to notice. ★★★★☆

Bay Area Party Music

Trackademicks State of the Arts HNRL Music

The Bay Area’s Trackademicks is one of the most underrated producers in hip-hop today. His unique vibe has been heard on songs and remixes for everyone from Zero 7 to Mistah F.A.B., and he gained fame with the unofficial remix of E-40’s smash “Tell Me When to Go.” Now, the Honor Roll Crew leader has dropped his full-length debut, State of the Arts. Although Trackademicks is no lyrical wizard, his groovy nu-wave meets hip-hop production is the star of this show. Songs such as “Show Love” featuring Spank Pops and 1 O.A.K. slithers with hand claps and synths that feel ripped out of the vaults early ’90s R&B artists. The Kid Sister-assisted “Quit Yo’ Job” is the perfect anthem to throw caution to the wind and party like every day is Friday night. The album slips a bit when Track is by himself on songs such as “D.I.Y.” but when he vibes alongside Phonte on the scatting “Fool on the Hill” all is forgiven. State of the Arts is a fun album, especially since it differs from what’s on the radio today. ★★★☆☆

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No Hit-Man Is an Island

Movie Review

No Hit-Man Is an Island

If you learn one thing from The Mechanic, the buddy action remake of the 1972 film of the same name from Simon West (ConAir, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider), it’s to be more cautious on Craigslist. Answer an ad for what seems like a routine spark-plug installation and you might end up volunteering to drown a Colombian dignitary in his lap pool. See, “mechanic” is code for an elite assassin, the kind of guy who scowls and wears mock turtlenecks and likes to walk away casually from burning buildings.